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Are you fit to date? Part 3
06 May 2009
Good conversation skil`ls can get you through any social occasion. Your ability to "chit chat" is a vital part of making friends, finding a romantic partner, all forms of social networking and business networking. Below the list of events are some simple steps that you can follow to get you remembered for better reasons, that colour of your hair.

I`m not a natural "chit chatter". Small talk is a necessity for my job and I`ve worked on my social chatting skil`ls to reach a level where I can launch into random conversation when required. This is why I can tell you that it is a skil`l that can be learned. No matter how shy or how intelligent you are, it`s worth working at this to make your social situations pleasant and a lot more fun.

Hanlie Raath of Paradox8, a relationship expert says, "If you want to stop being bored in your relationships, you need to stop being boring". Here is a set of steps to follow, so that you can create interest in you as an individual right from the very first piece of small talk. Maintaining that interest will need to be dealt with by Hanlie.

1 – Find topics that generate conversation.

The weather is THE small talk cliché. If you have lived in the UK, this is a genuinely interesting byte of small talk. However, if you`re in the UK, and especially in the North, there is a lot more weather to talk about than there is in South Africa. In South Africa, something a little more unique is required if you want to generate a conversation longer than 2 seconds.

2 – What interests you? Don`t be afraid to put it out there

Your interests will no doubt be of some interest to someone else too. What do you spend your time doing when you`re not at work – or is it work that interests you? Use your day to day interests to form conversation starters.

Don`t let your ideas of what you think other people find interesting stop you from talking about it. If you are a real book worm and you would rather send your weekends at home reading books, then you can probably talk a lot about books. It`s a great conversation starter.

If you start a conversation and get a to a silent dead end, then you will want to use an off shoot to continue. For example, what if you come across someone who doesn`t read? Continue with, "How do you keep informed then?" This will then lead into other areas of conversation.

3 – Build up your chat list

Some things work in all situations and you can use and re-use good material when you have it. I have a list in my head of things I like to talk about. These are things that I genuinely like to get other peoples opinions on, and topics that I know other people like to talk about. You will want to develop your own list for your own interests.
- Who do you listen to in the morning on the radio?
- Favourite or worst DJ?
- How do you like the new XX advert?
- Where have you been on holiday recently?

Talking about your children may be your passion, that too has so many other conversation off-shoots. You could talk about school choices, perhaps sport at school, or even a child`s recent achievement. Perhaps if you are talking to someone without children, public versus private schooling, or co-ed versus single sex schools is a good route.

4 – There is no need to be controversial for the sake of being controversial….

Unless you genuinely believe what you are putting out there, and you genuinely want to hear other points of view. Don`t argue for the sake of arguing. This is an age old "pick-up" trick, and it`s irritating. If you have a different view of something that you feel the masses follow blindly, feel free to air your views, it makes for great conversation, as long as you express a genuine personal view.

5 – Help a friend out

When someone approaches you with their small talk, don`t answer with one line, extend the conversation with your input.


6 – Find something positive to talk about, even if it`s the snacks.

If you`re battling for some conversation in an environment that`s foreign. Look for something to compliment in that environment. Even if it`s a mundane tiny detail like the new decor, or quality of the food. This is a start, and I find the other people will usually make an effort to expand into a better area of conversation. Once you are there, you can revert to your more valuable topics.

It`s very tempting to use a criticism as an "in" for conversation. Don`t do it!

How can I launch into conversation with a complete stranger? Just follow the points above! Your motive is to build an acquaintance into a relationship. At SMARTdate you have 5 minutes to make sure you are remembered for something better than, the "girl with the brown hair" or the "guy with the glasses"! The same goes for life. When you meet new people, who they are may not be important immediatley, but further down the line, your willingness to engage in conversation will pay off.

Our next newsletter topic will look at managing life as a singleton surro

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